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The Nine Big Lies Against Israel and What They Really Mean

Israeli troops overlook Jerusalem’s Old City, during the Six-Day War, June 1967. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgIn 1917, California’s isolationist senator Hiram W. Johnson captured the cynicism of politics—especially during wartime. “The first casualty when war comes is truth,” he said, echoing earlier sages, as America embarked on a “war to end all wars,” which we now call World War I.

While fabricating here and there may be every general’s pastime, Palestinian terrorists and their enablers have taken lying to a whole other level. Yet, despite building so much of their case on a foundation of falsehoods, they keep conning the world. Everyone “knows” that Israel occupies Gaza—despite Israel disengaging from it in 2005; that “From the River to the Sea” envisions a democratic Palestine—when it envisions an exterminated Israel; and, most outrageously, that hundreds of innocent Israelis, young and old alike, deserved to be massacred, maimed, raped and terrorized—while others deny all the evidence that the atrocities happened.

This primer picks nine of the most popular New Big Lies Palestinians and their enablers propagate. Let’s leave the number 10 for more godly commandments, while stressing that despite being debunked repeatedly, these lies have countless lives.

“From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free”

Give the Palestinians credit here: At least they’re honest. Well, some Palestinians prevaricate. They claim the slogan imagines a secular democratic state with Jews and Arabs living together. In fact, the phrase’s history is exclusionary and exterminationist.

In 1964, three years before the Six-Day War, the slogan was popularized by the Palestinian activists and terrorists who founded the Palestine Liberation Organization. Their war aims were not to liberate the “occupied territories,” which Israel only secured three years later. They wanted—and still do—to liberate the world from Israel itself. Similarly, since Hamas emerged in the late 1980s, the slogan has been a Hamas and Islamic Jihad mainstay.

Oct. 7 offered at least one clear lesson: If your enemy calls for your destruction—your enemy is calling for your destruction. Jews should take the Palestinian death cries seriously, and Americans must start taking the Iranian mullahs’ death cries seriously. It’s actually bigoted not to take them at their word, to decide “they can’t really mean that.” “From the River to the Sea” leaves no rooms for Jews—or the Jewish state.

“This is what decolonization looks like”

The world is a tough place. Over the centuries, powerful countries have colonized other places, sending explorers, then groups of settlers, away from the mother country to establish settlements, usually in order to extract resources. Inevitably, especially as national self-determination became a virtue, colonization led to decolonization.

On one level, decolonization is simply a historical process, whereby people in the colonies rebel, or the empire collapses. Over the decades, scholars defined decolonization as a state of mind, too. Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), born in Martinique, helped make decolonization trendy among some of the most settled and privileged people in the world’s richest and most expensive universities.

As a psychiatrist, Fanon observed that colonized people often internalized a sense of inferiority. As a revolutionary, he wanted those colonies to break free—even violently. Considering violence cleansing, restoring some balance, some dignity to the powerless, he called violence “man recreating himself.”

Fanon built on Marx’s binary, dividing the world between the oppressing ruling class and the oppressed proletariat. For Fanon, the forever-guilty oppressor was the colonizer, the forever-innocent oppressed was the decolonizer. For the colonized, Fanon preached, “there is no compromise, no possible coming to terms; colonization and decolonization is simply a question of strength.”

Fanon remains remarkably influential today. Call them woke. Call them postmodern. Call them identitarians. Today’s campus commissars have combined Marx’s seesaw between the oppressor and the oppressed with Fanon’s colonizer-decolonizer dynamic and deification of violence. These people frame the world—and America—as being caught in a zero-sum power struggle. The oppressive colonizers in this Manichean, black-and-white world are always guilty, while the oppressed are forever pure and innocent, no matter what they do.

Viewing the world through this distorting prism, Israel is always guilty, the Palestinians forever innocent. As a result, the Oct. 7 barbarian bloodbath was exhilarating, joyous, justified. One influencer even injected the Hamas-romanticizing term “settler babies” into the mix.

To see the world this way requires much fanaticism, many simplifications, multiple distortions and, at the end of the day, a very, very bruised soul. But those blinders explain how so many feminists fail to see Hamas’s rape culture and child abuse, how so many liberals fail to acknowledge the despotism, how so many humanists fail to cry out in shame and horror as Palestinian marauders crossed every civilizational red line.

“Israel is practicing apartheid”

The Jews seem to have magical powers. Over the centuries, Jews attracted all kinds of labels: Jews were too rich and too poor, too capitalist and too socialist, too traditional and too modern, too anxious to fit in and too eager to stand out.

Today, the Jewish state has similar plastic powers. As trends change, Israel is deemed guilty of the most heinous of national sins. Today Israel is a white-supremacist or, even better, Jewish-supremacist state, and a settler-colonialist enterprise. In the 1990s, Israel was racist, colonialist, and imperialist, as well as guilty of “ethnic cleansing” once the Balkan mess introduced that phrase into the international vocabulary. But since the 1970s, as the international community justifiably turned away in disgust from apartheid South Africa, Israel has been called an apartheid state.

Apartheid was a system of racial differentiation—apartness—based on all kinds of racial classifications and perverse beliefs that whites and blacks and colored people were not equal. The Apartheid Wall in Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum lists 148 laws sifting people into different racial categories to keep them apart and calibrate who deserved which privileges—and which restrictions.

Israel has never passed one law defining people by racial categories. In fact, Israelis and Palestinians are involved in a national conflict, not a race war.

Moreover, if Israel’s goal was an apartheid state, it’s done an awful job. Israeli Arabs enjoy equal rights and have served as Supreme Court judges, Knesset members, key members of the last coalition. With about 20% of the population, Israeli Arabs are overly represented in Israel’s medical system: About 20% of the doctors, as much as 40% of the nurses and 43% of the pharmacists are Israeli Arabs. Finally, if Israelis hate Arabs so much and see them as inferior, why was there so much excitement about the Abraham Accords, and why are Hamas and Iran trying to subvert a Saudi Arabian deal with Israel?

Maybe Israelis don’t hate Arabs—but only pass laws protecting themselves against enemies who seek to destroy them?

“Israel is carrying out genocide”

Genocide, literally tribe-killing, is defined as a systematic series of violent acts “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” For decades, Palestinians have been crying “genocide,” claiming Israel seeks to wipe them out. Yet the Palestinian population has at least quintupled since 1967, from just over 1 million to nearly five-and-a-half million people. Zionists are even worse at genocide than they are at apartheid.

Pure hatred often involves projection: You hate in others what you hate in yourself, you imagine your enemies would do to you what you would do to them if you had a chance. These false cries that Israelis are targeting Palestinians for genocide reflect the sweeping, categorical and thus genocidal tendencies in the Hamas charter, in the Oct. 7 sadism, and in too many twisted corners of the Palestinian national soul.

“Israel is engaged in disproportionate bombing”

When terrorists attack your civilians, then hide behind their civilians, what can a serious military do? Inevitably, some of those human shields will die.

Moreover, when you have an air force, and you have a choice between bombing an enemy from the air and sending your troops in door-to-door, what’s the moral call? A leader’s primary moral responsibility is to the led—and a defender’s primary moral responsibility is to defend those unfairly and viciously attacked. In April 2002, Israel chose to send reservists into Jenin to apprehend terrorists instead of bombing from the air, U.S.-style. The result was a Palestinian ambush that killed 23 Israelis. Israel’s supporters may have felt momentarily pure—but 23 families were scarred for life that day.

When an enemy attacks and then cowers in mosques and hospitals and kindergartens and schools, those protected places become military objectives. Complaining about a “disproportionate response” from a regular army when fighting terrorists embedded in a city is in essence complaining about any response from the army. When your enemy calls for your annihilation, acts on it, then vows to try again and again, it’s unrealistic to expect no collateral damage.

Let’s be clear: The moral onus for every death, every injury, every misfire, remains on Hamas for initiating this conflict. It’s unfair to forget that ultimately war is a clash of powerful, ugly forces. If you want to win, it’s logical—and moral—for your own side to mobilize as much force as it can, within the bounds of reason of course, while not being immediately criticized, as Israel is.

“Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza since 1967”

In June, 1967, threatened by three Arab armies, Israel fought for its life and more than tripled its size. It won the Golan Heights in the north from Syria. It took over Gaza and the Sinai in the South from Egypt. And it reunited Jerusalem, while securing the biblical lands of Judaea and Samaria from Jordan—which had, ahem, occupied what it called its “West Bank” territories, with no international authorization, since the Jordanian Legion invaded to its west during the 1948-1949 Israel War of Independence.

While Israeli governments over the years wavered, using various legal theories including the laws of occupation to define Israel’s relationship to all the territories, calling them “occupied” was triply problematic—especially to historians.

First, in defending itself legitimately, Israel seized territory from a hostile neighbor with no legal claim on it. From 1949 to 1967, the Jordanian conquerors ignored the U.N. 1947 Partition Plan to make those areas an independent Arab state. The United Nations never recognized Jordanian sovereignty there, making the territories truly disputed, not occupied.

Second, this was no colonial expedition, going to some exotic locale in pith helmets and safari suits. Jews had international rights to the territories and a deep history there, especially the biblical territories of Judaea and Samaria, which were deemed Jewish and open for Jewish settlement under the 1920 (often overlooked) San Remo conference and, subsequently, the British Mandate.

Third, as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan presciently noted in 1980, calling Israel an “occupier” implicitly compared Israel’s far more benign, legitimate and rooted policies “to the Nazi practice of deporting or murdering vast numbers of persons in Western Poland—as at Auschwitz—and plans for settling the territory with Germans.” This false comparison, Moynihan noted, played “perfectly into the Soviet propaganda position” and the Palestinian projection that “Zionism is present-day fascism.”

Today, alas, the occupation preoccupation has become the main launching pad not only for the Bash Israel Firsters, but those hyper-critical Jews who habitually doubt Israel. Moreover, Palestinians use the words “occupation” and “settlements” promiscuously, to delegitimize anything Zionist. Israel is “occupied,” all of Israel. Every Israeli is a “settler.” The plundered kibbutzim of the southwest Negev are “settlements,” despite lying in pre-1967 Israel, within the “Green Line,” the borders from the 1949 armistice with Jordan, hastily drawn in green pencil. This sweeping Big Lie helped legitimize Hamas’s savagery, deeming every Israeli, every Thai volunteer, every tourist an “occupier” deserving of any violence Hamas and the other Palestinian murderers could mete out.

“Israel’s so-called disengagement from Gaza just turned it into an open-air prison”

In 2005, Israel disengaged from Gaza, uprooting over 9,000 Israeli citizens living in 25 settlements scattered through Gaza and northern Samaria. Amid the anguish, military strategists lobbied intensely to keep a strip of land for defensive purposes—the Philadelphi corridor. The Duke of Disengagement, Ariel Sharon, resisted. He claimed that if Israel retained even one grain of Gazan sand, critics would claim it was still “occupied.” And he was confident that once Gaza was no longer occupied, Israel could live in peace as the Gazans prospered.

If there is one word that best explains Israelis’ current frustration and fury, it is “disengagement.” Eighteen years ago, there were some weapons in Gaza, no tunnels and a limited terrorist infrastructure, because Israel still retained some control. Yet, almost immediately after withdrawing from Gaza, primitive Qassam rockets started bombarding Israel—while critics kept bombarding Israel with the o-word, the occupation charge. The violence against Israel—and the criticism—intensified when Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, killing fellow Palestinians brutally.

Under the gun, now facing an implacable foe vowing to exterminate the Jewish state and the Jews—see the Hamas charter—Israel tried blockading Hamas. As a result, a whole series of lies burst forth: that Israel is occupying the territory it withdrew from completely (in fact, note how little control it had and how ineffectual its blockade was as Hamas built its deadly arsenal); that Gaza is the “most densely populated place on earth” (it doesn’t compare to Manhattan, Hong Kong, and other super-skyscrapered city centers); and that the Zionists have made it an “open air prison” or concentration camp (when you can see on a map that Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border, and know it keeps Gazans far, far away from Egyptians).

In short, Israel did everything it said it would when it disengaged. In doing so, Israel betrayed many of its own citizens. Nevertheless, Israel ended up with no peace, no peace of mind and a piece of territory that became Hamastan rather than the Mediterranean resort it could have been if its governing body had put its generous international aid to good use. Today, Israel has on its border a hostile, seething launching pad for tens of thousands of rockets and marauders, exporting so much trauma and misery—while those responsible treat their own people as cannon fodder, too.

 “Israel must agree to a humanitarian ceasefire”

In the Middle East today, that phrase may be the ultimate oxymoron—like a moral terrorist, a pragmatic Hamasnik, a feminist jihadist, a liberal-democratic Palestinian Authority member, a healthy cancer. For 18 years the world has yelled “disproportionate bombing” and keeps demanding “humanitarian ceasefires” whenever Israel defends itself. For 18 years, much humanitarian aid has been diverted to Hamas itself. After Hamas invaded and raided and shattered so many lives, from an Israeli perspective, what would be “humanitarian” about a premature ceasefire?

Diplomats and pro-Palestinian demonstrators say “humanitarian ceasefire.” Israelis hear “a chance for Hamas to regroup” and “more of the same.” Many Israelis wonder: “When do the hostages get such a pause?” Until the hostages are released, Israel cannot relent.

Israel can move to ease the burden of the truly innocent stuck between Hamas and the IDF. Israel can set up field hospitals or temporary refuges in empty parts of Gaza, in Egypt, or even in isolated parts of the Negev. But let’s not kid ourselves: Hamas will take advantage of any break or kindness. At least one-third of the first wave of what was supposed to be foreign nationals evacuated to Egypt were wounded Hamas terrorists trying to sneak away. Fuel delivered by international organizations has long been hijacked by Hamas for its war machine.

Some claim Hamas is a small group holding the peace-loving Gazans hostage. But if Hamas is abusing people, a humanitarian pause giving the terrorists a break increases Palestinian misery, too. It delays the liberation they need. In fact, most Gazans, like most Palestinians, celebrated the carnage on Oct. 7, and many zealously participated.

So, yes, try improvising ways to help, to minimize civilian suffering. But the phrase “humanitarian aid” sounds like resupplying Hamas, and “ceasefire” sounds like letting the killers regroup.

“Israel must pursue a two-state solution”

 In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181. It was epic, recognizing the Jewish right to a national home—a right rooted in the Bible, promised in the Balfour Declaration and San Remo redeemed through the blood, sweat and tears of Zionist pioneers who had already built an impressive infrastructure for the state that would be declared in May, 1948. To treat—in the parlance of the time—the Palestinian Jews and the Palestinian Arabs fairly, the United Nations partitioned the area, envisioning a Jewish state and an Arab entity, while internationalizing Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s forever capital.

The Jews found this compromise devastating. But Palestinian Jewry’s leadership, pushed by David Ben-Gurion, decided that half a loaf was better than none. Two years after the Holocaust ended, Ben-Gurion feared more bloodshed. The Jews needed a state. The day after the U.N. Resolution passed, as Jews finished singing and dancing, Arab rejectionists rioted, trashing Jerusalem’s commercial district.

That started an historic pattern. Again and again, the Jews—and after 1948 what became the State of Israel—offered compromises, were willing to split territory, to cede territory. Yet again and again, the Palestinian leadership rejected it. No wonder the leading historian Efraim Karsh titled his book about the era “Palestine Betrayed,” emphasizing that Hitlerian extremists like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem betrayed their own Palestinian Arab people.

In 1974, the United Nations passed a resolution endorsing “two States, Israel and Palestine … side by side within secure and recognized borders.” Thus began this diplomatic Holy Grail, pursuing a “two-state solution.” The most dramatic attempt to achieve it—the Oslo Peace Process of the 1990s—ended in bloodshed, when after the Camp David Peace Talks in 2000 Yasser Arafat rejected any compromise and led his people from negotiation right back to terror.

So yes, for decades there has been talk of a “two-state solution,” and many Israelis would love to see a territorial split. But, especially after Oct. 7, the phrase stings. It reeks of three lies—the lies they tell us, the lies the world buys and the lies we tell ourselves.

First, when Palestinian diplomats and propagandists play the two-state game, they imply that once they have their territorial share, one of two states, the conflict will be solved. But the Palestinian leadership consistently refuses even to adjust its sweeping, all-or-nothing rhetoric promising to wipe Israel off the map. The Americans worked so hard in the 1990s to get Arafat to change the PLO charter calling for Israel’s destruction—and were so desperate to succeed—they overlooked what Arafat kept saying in Arabic, when he thought Bill Clinton and company weren’t paying attention. Again and again, especially Arafat in 2000, Mahmoud Abbas when he rejected Ehud Olmert’s compromise in 2008 and, most dramatically, Hamas in Gaza, showed no interest in a true “solution” that leaves Israel intact. Hamas’s charter is explicit about that.

Today, the phrase is even more misleading and infuriating because it’s usually used as code in the international community and certain parts of the Jewish community for “Israel, just do the right thing, give them their territory ‘back’ and we will have peace.” But, especially after Oct. 7, most Israelis know that the call on the Palestinian side is a ruse. Gazans had the potential to make a state. Israel and the international community would have showered peaceful, constructive Palestinians with money. Instead, they turned their strip of land into a multi-layered stationary warship—and the international community still showered them with money.

Most upsetting, “the two-state solution” represents the lies we told ourselves. Admittedly under great international pressure (don’t just throw Bibi under the bus) Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s military, diplomatic and intelligence establishment decided that Hamas was “pragmatic,” could be contained. After all, no credible person could really believe the rantings in Hamas’s charter using the Koran to justify destroying Israel and killing the Jews.

This is not to say that the problem is insoluble. At certain moments, no one imagined peace with Egypt or Jordan or the United Arab Emirates. But that particular slogan is too compromised, and too associated with the lives and limbs and love and faith Israelis just lost.

Clearly, the Palestinians and their propagandists have developed a whole lexicon, a series of talking points and slogans that distort words, negate history and obscure Palestinian intentions. Israel went along with these lies for too long, often bullied into guilelessness by a gullible international community. Oct. 7 was a nightmarish wake-up call. Israel must be moral—for its own sake, for its soldiers’ consciences and its national soul. The game of buying into Palestinian lies and international niceties ended when those terrorists swarmed the peaceful kibbutzim and villages, sowing death and destruction. The challenge now is creating a new reality—and a new lexicon to acknowledge that reality—and build a better, fairer and genuinely safer new Middle East from there.

Originally published by The Jewish Journal

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On Explosive Northern Front, Hezbollah Lurks; IDF Conducts Precise Defense

UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) patrol in the village of Khiam, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon, July 12, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Aziz Taher

JNS.orgAs Israel prepares for the strong possibility of a resumption of war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Forces is also currently in a heightened state of alert and preparedness along the border with Lebanon, responding to the continuous threats posed by Hezbollah.

Since Oct. 7, the IDF has deployed significant military resources, including artillery, tanks and engineering corps, along the Lebanese border, striking Hezbollah anti-tank missile squads and other terrorists whenever they are detected, either after an attack or preparing for one.

This low-intensity conflict when compared to Gaza has resulted in some 90 casualties for Hezbollah and nine Israeli casualties—six military personnel and three civilians.

Several Israeli homes and military bases have sustained heavy damage from Hezbollah strikes since Oct. 7, and tens of thousands of Israeli residents from areas near the border with Lebanon remain evacuated, displaced from their homes by the threat of the Radwan Hezbollah elite terrorist unit.

In response, the IDF has employed a defensive-responsive posture aimed at protecting Israeli territory from Hezbollah’s aggression but not escalating the situation into a full-scale war front at this time.

Its approach is characterized by a reactive rather than proactive stance. Operations are tailored to respond to specific threats and attacks from Hezbollah, avoiding initiating aggression. This goal remains to protect civilian lives and property, as well as to make sure that Hezbollah cannot surprise the north as Hamas did the south. Still, the decision of any expanded war efforts in Lebanon remains up to the war cabinet.

Hezbollah’s tactics, meanwhile, involve embedding its operations within Lebanese civilian areas; using southern Shi’ite villages as bases of attack; firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli northern homes and military positions; and continuing to pose a serious and persistent threat.

The question of whether the Radwan unit, which has murder and kidnap squads much like Hamas’s Nukhba unit, could breach the Israeli border and conduct attacks has no clear answer at this time, although the IDF is present at the border in large numbers and has proven effective at detecting Radwan unit movements in real-time.

Hezbollah’s terror tactics not only endanger Lebanese civilians but are designed to complicate the IDF’s response—a familiar use of human shielding that Hamas employs as well in Gaza.

In this explosive situation, the IDF currently exercises restraint in its counterstrikes, relying on precise intelligence to target terrorist threats while minimizing civilian casualties and collateral damage.

UNIFIL ineffective in curbing provocation

The role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in challenging Hezbollah’s flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which bans Hezbollah from operating in Southern Lebanon, is nonexistent.

Worse yet, Hezbollah has been actively using UNIFIL as human shields, launching attacks on Israel in some cases from tens of meters from UNIFIL positions.

UNIFIL’s ineffectiveness in curbing Hezbollah’s activities is self-evident, highlighting the limitations of international peacekeeping forces in such scenarios.

Despite this, the IDF continues to remain in contact with UNIFIL and has been transmitting its concern over Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities with no tangible results.

So far, Israel’s policy on the Lebanon border is a delicate balance between essential defense and cautious restraint. But it remains unclear how long this can continue since northern residents will not return to a persistent Hezbollah threat to their lives in the new, post-Oct. 7 reality, and the IDF cannot remain fully deployed in the north indefinitely.

The result is a paradox that appears to suggest difficult decisions in the future by the Israeli war cabinet if the north is to be sustainable and its residents granted a new sense of security.

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The Determination of Israel’s Reservists

IDF soldiers are seen at rest stop near the border with Gaza. Photo: Reuters/Jim Hollander

JNS.orgWho is the Israel soldier? They can be of any age and profession. It may have been a long time since they held a weapon. Many of them are at Tze’elim, one of the IDF’s largest bases, just across the border from Gaza on yellow sand.

When I meet them, they are waiting, as the brief ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was still holding. A short time later, Hamas broke the truce, attacked Israel with rockets, and the fighting began again.

These soldiers are older and more emotional than you would imagine. Their intentions are clear: “Never Again.” The Oct. 7 massacre will never be permitted to reoccur. Israel must be freed from the nightmare of Hamas.

In Tze’elim, rows of barracks and numerous disorderly tents house thousands of soldiers of all kinds. We meet with a group of them from Brigade 252. They are soldiers from the miluim—the reserves. They have completed their three-year military service—or two years, if they are women—but they all keep their “miluim bag” under the bed. If the phone rings, as happened on Oct. 7, they rush to the front, whether they are in Tel Aviv or traveling in Japan, whether they are left-wing or right-wing, professors or taxi drivers. They tear themselves away from the operating room and the shop, the lawyer’s office and the bus they drive.

Commander A. is thin, with gray hair and a kind smile. He is religious. On the morning of Oct. 7, he was in synagogue without a telephone. Someone told him “something never seen before is happening.” A. rushed to his collection point in the south and has yet to return home.

On Oct. 7, the reserves were immediately thrown into the battle to retake the kibbutzim that had been attacked and massacred by Hamas terrorists. They hunted down the Hamas men who remained and collected the wounded and dead Israelis in the fields and on the roads. A. closes his eyes. He has seen hell.

The 252 was then sent into the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, home to 50,000 inhabitants who serve as human shields for what is essentially a massive rocket launching pad. The reservists were trained in a mock-up of a Gaza city. They practiced how to enter, shoot, exit, climb, attack and go through tunnels full of TNT. They trained against ambushes, snipers and RPGs.

A. says that, when they went into Beit Hanoun itself, “We had to quickly learn a lesson: Beit Hanoun’s ambush is in his heart, not its outer circles. The terrorists let you enter easily. There’s a row of houses, two or three more, and that’s where Hamas is waiting for you—where you don’t expect it, in civilian structures.”

A. explains, “If we decide to destroy a structure and there are civilians inside, we warn the civilian population. … There are precise rules for evaluating whether we have to act, whether it’s essential because if we don’t act, the lives of soldiers or Israeli civilians are in danger. We try to stop Hamas’s continuous use of human shields by moving the civilians out completely.”

A. is happy to say, “Of civilians killed in Ben Hanoun, the number is zero.”

Israeli soldiers, however, were killed. Maj. Moshe, a 50-year-old engineer who works in high-tech, explained, “An army generally advances on a territory that, once occupied, is the starting point of your next step. But here, through the tunnels under the ground, suddenly you find the enemy shooting at you from behind.”

Thus, great efforts were made to locate the tunnels. “With the use of sophisticated instruments, and also sometimes suffering unexpected explosions given that Hamas’s specialty is to mine everything with large quantities of explosives, we quickly understood that the tunnels were a very sophisticated network, not holes of various sizes dug here and there, but an enormous spider web that converged on the urban center.”

“The structures used by Hamas, which they protected with human shields, included a mosque, a school, a hospital, a public swimming pool, civilian homes, children’s rooms, even their beds. There were weapons everywhere,” he says.

As a result of the truce, Moshe states, some of the evacuated civilians have begun to return. “We can block them,” he says, “but not attack them or approach them. There is a truce.”

Nonetheless, I point out, three soldiers were wounded two days ago in an attack. “True,” Moshe replies, “and we returned fire. If we are in danger we respond.” He notes that some of the returnees are Hamas terrorists, “but we are in a truce, we act according to the rules of defense.”

“We have two ways of being at war: offensive and defensive,” he continues. “The offensive is much easier: You face the enemy. You can move. Defense is unnerving, even dangerous, especially when there are civilians around.”

However, he says, there is much to do, even during a truce. “For example, we had completely dismantled the explosive systems inside a building, and then we realized that everything had been mined again.”

Hamas, he says, is “easier to deal with than endure while you can’t move. So, we wait for orders. The mission is to destroy Hamas and bring the kidnapped people home. That and nothing else.”

Now that the soldiers are back at war, the humanitarian issue is certainly important to them; not because of what the Biden administration tells them, but because that is what an Israeli soldier is.

First and foremost, however, they are Jews who know exactly what was done to their people on Oct. 7 and will continue their war of justice and survival. One of them tells me, “Yes, I feel when we fight, feel it physically, that our kidnapped citizens are not far away, and I fight for them too with all my heart. This is the most just war of all time.”

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The Moral Bankruptcy of IfNotNow

IfNotNow supporters at a rally in New York City. Photo: IfNotNow via Facebook.

JNS.orgA few days ago, I attended a webinar entitled “Jews for Ceasefire,” presented by the young Jewish anti-Zionists of IfNotNow. It was hosted by an earnest young woman named Gen (IfNotNow activists often don’t use their surnames), who began by reaffirming what the group calls its main goal: to “end American support for Israeli apartheid.” She went on to emphasize that all the positions taken by IfNotNow are “deeply grounded in Jewish tradition.” To prove the point, she called on Rabbi Monica Gomery, who led a prayer and enthusiastically praised the group’s work.

Next up was Noa, a young woman who said, “I’m going to root us in the moment.” “The moment,” however, did not include Hamas’s Oct. 7 genocidal attack on Israeli civilians. Noa said nothing whatsoever about it. Instead, she presented a litany of alleged Israeli abuses inflicted on Palestinians. Her omission appeared to be deliberate, as it helped portray the IDF’s defensive military operations in Gaza as an unprovoked act of aggression.

Following Noa, there was a testimonial from a young man named Boaz. He made what appeared to him to be a confession that his grandfather helped perpetrate the “nakba.” What he meant was that his grandfather was a soldier in Israel’s War of Independence. For Boaz, his father’s participation in Israel’s successful effort to prevent a second Holocaust was a source of shame, not pride. As he explained, he was trying to work through his guilt. A poster behind him bore the slogan, “Palestine will be free,” a popular euphemism for that second Holocaust.

After Boaz’s self-flagellation came the highlight of the webinar—an appearance by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Tlaib has been an ally of IfNotNow for some time. In fact, the group’s leadership began collaborating with Tlaib before she was elected to Congress. During her presentation, Tlaib referred to them as her “siblings.”

Sporting a t-shirt that said, “Justice from Detroit to Gaza”—a slogan that falsely connects Israel to police brutality controversies in the U.S.—Tlaib declared that Congress must demand a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas and “stop funding war crimes.” Like her IfNotNow supporters, Tlaib conveniently made no mention of the Oct. 7 attack or the hostages held by Hamas.

It apparently did not bother the leaders of IfNotNow that the House of Representatives had just censured Tlaib for her genocidal call to free “Palestine from the river to the sea.” Indeed, IfNotNow leaders repeat the same call in their training sessions. That training also endorses the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to economically strangle Israel, as well as the so-called “right of return,” which aims to demographically eliminate the Jewish state.

It seems that IfNotNow leaders are unperturbed that Tlaib has characterized Hamas’s rampage of crimes against humanity as justified “resistance” to an “apartheid state.” These Jews, it appears, are perfectly happy to align themselves with someone who supports murdering large numbers of Jews. They are also unbothered by the fact that Tlaib posted a video on social media that says, “Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people”—a genocide that is not happening. One of IfNotNow’s campaigns calling for a ceasefire is entitled, “No Genocide in Our Name.” Having erased Hamas’s genocidal attack, IfNotNow appears to have fabricated one.

In addition, IfNotNow has officially endorsed Tlaib’s statement, “You cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government.” To them and other young Jews who clasp hands with Tlaib and her compatriots, condemnation of Israel is the sine qua non of being a progressive, and a policy of racist exclusion must be imposed on any Jew who doesn’t get with the program. IfNotNow looks to Tlaib to lead the way, even though, like antisemites throughout history, she is happy to exploit them and eventually discard them once they have outlived their usefulness.

Most tellingly, IfNotNow has been unfazed by Tlaib’s open antisemitism, such as her claim that American supporters of Israel “forgot what country they represent,” clearly invoking the “dual loyalty” libel. She has also engaged in antisemitic conspiracy theories, talking about the “people behind the curtain” who are exploiting victims “from Gaza to Detroit.”

Worst of all, Tlaib is the only member of Congress to call for an end to the Jewish state. It should not be surprising that IfNotNow is fine with that, as they proudly state that they take no position on Israel’s right to exist.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has perfectly and accurately described such people as “Hamas’s useful idiots.”

The origins of IfNotNow’s ideology are obvious. Like Tlaib and many other “social justice” ideologues, IfNotNow divides people into two groups: Oppressors and the oppressed. Depending on your racial or ethnic identity, you by definition belong to one or the other. There are no gradations, no nuance and only one permissible narrative. Thus, decades of genocidal Arab violence go unmentioned, including the Oct. 7 massacre. There is only Israeli oppression and Palestinian “resistance.”

It would be a mistake to believe that IfNotNow is an inconsequential outlier. They have nine chapters across the United States and an office on K Street in Washington, D.C. The webinar I attended had more than 1,600 attendees.

They also have powerful friends and an enormous amount of money. According to NGO Monitor, IfNotNow has received grants from the wealthy Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Tides Foundation, the New Israel Fund’s Progressive Jewish Fund and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

All that, plus support from a member of Congress. It seems that racism, hate and support for genocide pay off.

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